Ok, we get it. After all the excitement of registering and preparing all the documents for your first Umrah in Ramadhan trip, the reality is finally beginning to sink in. People tell you the crowds will be like nothing you have seen before (yes, nothing like the Raya night bazaar crowd). They also tell you the heat will also be like nothing you have felt before (Singapore is no Arctic weather, but we have never had the Celcius in the 40s).
The anxiety is real, and we won’t kid you. Umrah during summer, and in Ramadhan, will be a test on your physical, emotional, and especially spiritual senses. Before you start getting a panic attack, here are 5 basic tips for you to survive your first Ramadhan umrah during summer:
1. Stay away from the sun
This summer, the temperature will hit up to 50 degrees Celcius. While it may sound like common sense to stay out of the sun, don’t be surprised when you see people deciding to do tawaf sunat or try to kiss the Hajar Aswad at noon. One of the reasons they do this is because of the much smaller crowd at this hour. It may be tempting, but unless you are confident you won’t be spending an hour under direct sunlight, we recommend that you spend most of the daylight in sheltered places.
2. Have a Zamzam break
You will spend about 15 hours fasting. Dehydration can be a concern especially for the elderly and the young. Do not miss out on sahur, and increase your liquid intake at night to reduce the risk of dehydration. The zamzam water containers are placed everywhere, so ensure frequent stops for a Zamzam break.
3. Don’t run when they run
When there is a huge gathering of people from all over the world, stampedes may happen. When you are in a big crowd, it is too easy, in fact, it is almost natural, to follow the crowd. Especially when people start to run, the first instinct is to pick up your things and just run. The cause of such a panicky act is usually something trivial, such as a blown out light.
While we do not recommend that you investigate the cause, we would like to advise you not to join the crowd in running. How not to? If there is a nearby pillar, protect yourself against the flow of people by standing behind it. If there is no such pillars, follow the flow but try to walk sideways to avoid stumbling and falling if pushed from behind. A good analogy to this is to use your survivor’s instincts in the MRT. How do you stand to avoid falling all over when the train brakes? You stand parallel to the movement direction.
We find sweat annoying. However, over there, especially in summer, your sweat will take no time to dry up. Because of this, the moisturizer will be your best friend. Use it not just on your face, but especially on the feet and arms. Here’s an obvious tip. Get an odourless one. Vaseline is our favourite.
5. Pace yourself
For those who are spending Akhir Ramadhan there, you will find yourself chasing after time once it is maghrib. Right after maghrib, isyak and then taraweeh, you will have very little time to rest before going back to the Masjid for Tahajjud which usually lasts for about 1 hour 45 minutes. You will not have time to nap because all too soon, it is sahur and then subuh. So when will you get to sleep?
When in Saudi Arabia, sleep like the locals do. Sleep after subuh. Don’t think about doing laundry. What about umrah? Don’t we usually do it after subuh? Pace yourself. Space out your umrah, don’t do it on consecutive days and ensure you have enough rest before making the niat. The priority is to fast. Assess your health and plan your ibadah.
Performing umrah during summer is not easy. Performing umrah while fasting during summer is on another level altogether. However, for all the struggles, being pushed, jostled, sat on (believe us, it can happen during sujud), we hope you will take much comfort and strength in the words of our Beloved:
“Umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying me on Hajj” – Sahih al-Bukhari